The NFL is a results business, so let's get one thing out of the way right from the start.
Winning is what matters at the end of the day and the 16-10 final score on Sunday means that the Cowboys got a win over the Buccaneers. No one gives you bonus points for playing valiantly in defeat, so you can't issue any demerits for the fact that the Cowboys didn't look particularly impressive on their way to that victory.
That doesn't mean you can't call terrible play terrible play, but it does mean that you can't be totally dismissive of the fact that the terrible play didn't lead to a Cowboys loss. Winning games isn't easy when you're playing well, so fighting and figuring things out on a day when little went right is something that the team should feel relatively proud of as they look back at the contest.
After all, when they are handing out playoff berths it won't matter what this win looked like. It will just matter that the Cowboys got the win. So just keep that in mind when we hit on the bad and ugly things from Sunday's game.
GOOD: When DeMarcus Ware is on, he changes games though his ability to wreak havoc on opposing backfields. That's just what he did Sunday, with two sacks and two forced fumbles against Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman. The Cowboys still need more help with the pass rush, but it isn't their biggest need because Ware is such a beast.
UGLY: That biggest need would be the offensive line, which was scary bad on Sunday. It's impossible to imagine Tony Romo getting through this entire season without getting injured as long as this overpaid and underperforming line continues play like they are allergic to blocking opposing defenders. You can't even really get too upset about Romo's miscues because the lack of protection contributed to all of them.
BAD: The Barry Church injury leaves the Cowboys awfully short on safeties for such an early moment in the season. It looks like Brandon Carr is their plan to fill one spot, at least until Gerald Sensabaugh returns, but that's hardly what the defensive plan was when they paid Carr to be an elite cornerback this offseason.
GOOD: Not trading Mike Jenkins really worked out, though. If Carr does go to safety for the long haul, it's nice to have Jenkins as an option at corner instead of watching him playing for someone else.
UGLY: We're not sure if tight end Jason Witten is still suffering from the effects of his lacerated spleen or not, but there's going to come a point where he needs to take a break either way. He's been totally ineffective in all three games this season and is increasingly hurting the Cowboys when he's on the field.
GOOD: Dez Bryant finally had a big play. His 44-yard punt return to set up the final Dan Bailey field goal was brilliant for two reasons. One was the reminder that Bryant's really good and the other was that it came after the defense did a great job of pinning Tampa deep to set up a chance for the Cowboys to pounce on a short field.